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NYTimes: Obamacare Delivers on Most of Obama's Promises

Monday, 27 October 2014 01:42 PM

Obamacare has mostly succeeded in living up to President Barack Obama's promises, although it has fallen short in certain categories such as the cost of premiums, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

In its report, the liberal-leaning newspaper posed a series of questions to decide whether the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature domestic healthcare policy, had been working successfully since its launch in the fall of 2013.

The Times' first question was: Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced? "Yes, the number of uninsured Americans has fallen significantly," wrote the Times' Margot Sanger-Katz.

The report says the amount of Americans without health insurance is down by about 25 percent, with between 3 million and 4 million people, mostly young adults, becoming newly-insured, according to the Times.

"There's no question [the uninsured rate] has come down," said Dan Witters, the research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has been surveying Americans about their health insurance status since 2008.

"The Affordable Care Act will never bring the country universal health insurance coverage, but it is starting to close the gap," writes Sanger-Katz.

The second question: Has insurance under the law been affordable? "Subsidies lower costs for most people, but some see their premium rise," says the Times.

"When President Obama signed the measure in 2010, he pledged that it would protect Americans from ruinously high medical bills by guaranteeing them access to comprehensive and affordable coverage," writes Sanger-Katz. "For millions of people who gained insurance through the law, this has proved true.

"But the law, by requiring insurers to provide a broader array of benefits and to cover people with pre-existing conditions, caused premiums to rise for some who already had insurance.

"Many of those people were young and in good health, had plans that offered sharply limited benefits that were canceled because of the law, or were not eligible for subsidies."

Another question asked: Will the online exchanges work better this year than last? The Times says there will be no more "blue screens of death," but exchanges could face new challenges.

The federally-run online insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov was hit with a series of glitches when it first came online and it took two months to sort out most of the kinks, while many of the 14 state-run exchanges malfunctioned as well.

The new enrollment period begins Nov. 15, and millions of new customers are expected to enroll this time, leading to potential problems for the marketplace websites. Also, the 7.3 million customers who bought private plans last time will be going online to review their options and look for better deals.

"Moreover, the 'back end' of the federal exchange, which the government uses to enroll consumers in health plans and to send subsidy payments to insurers, remains unfinished," wrote Sanger-Katz.

The Times also asked: Has the healthcare industry been helped or hurt by the law? "The law mostly helped, by providing new paying patients and insurance customers," says the report.

Wall Street experts and healthcare pundits believe the law has given a boost to the healthcare industry because of the increased amount of business for hospitals, private health clinics, and drug companies, says the Times.

"If you look sector by sector, the ACA has resulted in pretty substantial earnings across the board," said Paul Keckley, managing director of the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, a consulting firm unit.

The Times report asked: Did the Affordable Care Act improve health standards? But the study said more time was needed to reach that conclusion.

The Obama administration had claimed that Obamacare would eventually help to make the nation healthier because more people would have access to more preventative care, including such procedures as mammograms, colonoscopies, or just routine checkups.

Although some experts say it's too soon to tell whether the law is having a dramatic impact on improving the health of average Americans, the Times says early data shows it's having potentially positive results in the future health of young people.

"Most striking, however, was the effect on young college graduates," wrote Sanger-Katz.

"They were far more likely to report excellent health (an important indicator of future sickness and mortality, experts say), to have a primary care doctor, and to go to the doctor regularly than before the law."

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Obamacare has mostly succeeded in living up to President Obama's promises, although it has fallen short in certain categories such as the cost of premiums, according to an analysis by The New York Times.
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Monday, 27 October 2014 01:42 PM
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